Say What?!

Say What?!

The St. Kate’s community speaks up on the value of a college degree and why a liberal arts-focused, women-centered education is so important.
By Sara Berhow

It’s not surprising to hear a college education is a big investment at any degree level. Many of us have heard the statistics. tells us that at private institutions, the average student paid $46,272 to attend college in 2014–15. The average 2015 college graduate will pay back over $35,000 in loans, and almost 71 percent who earn bachelor’s degrees this year will graduate with student debt, reported a Wall Street Journal article in May.

The national conversation around higher education has shifted to topics such as the return on investment, student loan debt, the perceived value of a liberal arts education, and the declining numbers of women’s colleges.

U.S. women’s colleges number just 42. Some are considering closure or going co-educational to keep the doors open. In March Sweet Briar College announced it would close, launching discussion about the relevance of women’s colleges today.

In the face of all this, St. Catherine University remains committed to liberal arts education and thriving as one of the largest and most comprehensive colleges for women in the nation.

To gain insight into why a college education is valuable and what it means to earn a degree from St. Kate’s, we turned to our community. Their responses were unanimous — and, in true Katie form, passionate. A college education based on the liberal arts matters. Perhaps now more than ever.

Professor of history

Why is a college education worth the investment?
It’s the gateway to a bigger life. A college education is not just about how much money you can earn or what kind of occupation you can have. It’s an investment in your life. The college experience is transformational. It’s about becoming the most you can be, intellectually, socially and developmentally.

Why liberal arts?
Liberal arts education is about developing the whole human. It prepares people to be citizens of the world.

Why are women’s colleges relevant today?
Women don’t like to think this in 2015, but young women still come to us with very limited ideas about who they are, what they can do and what it means to be a woman in the world. That changes after four years here. Seniors talk about the significance of not only the intellectual experience, but the power of learning with other women and being expected to be leaders. 

What makes St. Kate’s a good choice?
At St. Kate’s, there are small class sizes and a lot of interaction with faculty. There are many opportunities for one-on-one interaction inside and outside the classroom.

Much of the learning is discussion based, which might not be recognized as feminist, but is. It’s about hearing all the voices. Professors can learn from students and students can learn from each other. There’s an expectation that students will collaborate and invest in learning.

English major, with Hispanic studies minor

Why is a college education valuable?
College helps a person land a better job. However, it’s been more than that for me. I’ve learned so much about myself. I’ve been introduced to social justice issues that impact me as a woman. I’ve grown in my Catholic identity.

Why St. Kate’s?
In my family, college wasn’t the first option after high school. It was: find a job or marry. I applied to colleges because my classmates were doing it. After posting an online student profile that included my Catholic background, St. Kate’s reached out. I’m from California, so Minnesota wasn’t on my radar. I decided to go forth after teachers and mentors asked, “why not give it a chance?”

How does your family feel now about your choice to attend college?
My college experience has been transformational for all of us. My parents see the strong and confident person I’ve become, and they appreciate that doors will be open for me that wouldn’t have been without a college degree.

What do you value about your education?
I didn’t specifically choose a women’s college, but I’ve found it to be empowering. It’s built a confidence in me, and I’ve learned to have this voice.

What do you plan to with your English degree?
I want to work in human rights. I had four internships, including at the Center for Victims of Torture and the Immigrant Law Center, through St. Kate’s Career Ready program. In each internship, I learned ways my degree would contribute.

Track & field athlete, Fashion merchandising major

Why is a college education relevant?
Because I’m receiving more than an education. I’ve gained life skills. I’ve grown so much, and met many amazing, strong women at St. Kate’s. I’ve learned things I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else.

Describe your experience as a student-athlete.
Running makes me feel confident and proud. The people I’m around because of track and field have shaped me in many ways. Without them, I wouldn’t understand leadership and family in the way I do.

You will be the first in your family to earn a four-year degree. What does that mean to you?
I’m not only going to be the first in my immediate family to do this, I’m doing it while competing in a sport and working two jobs. I’m paying my own way. I’m so proud of that.

What made St. Kate’s your college choice?
I chose St. Kate’s for the apparel design and fashion merchandising program, and because I could continue competing in track.

What do you value about your education?
Being here, you can’t help but learn about yourself as a woman. I’m happy I ended up at St. Kate’s and would make same the decision again. I wish more young women would give women’s colleges a chance. It’s an empowering experience.

Nursing major

Why is a college education valuable?
It opens so many doors. And there’s so much personal growth that happens in college. Meeting people of diverse backgrounds is so enriching.

Why did you choose to pursue a college degree?
I knew in high school that I wanted to be a nurse. But when I attended college the first time, I didn’t have the know-how to finish my degree. This time, I’m better prepared. My education is on my dime now, and I’m so committed.

Why St. Kate’s?
There’s no question I was going to choose St. Kate’s. It’s a very reputable school. I also appreciate the sense of pride that goes along with being a Katie nurse. I could get a cheaper education elsewhere, but St. Kate’s offers things that make the price worthwhile; for example, the best clinical experiences.

Assistant professor of education

Why is a college education relevant?
It’s about high-paying jobs. Also, the personal and intellectual development that happens during college is so valuable. Students have the opportunity to meet many people and develop networks that will help them after graduation.

What makes a St. Kate’s education special?
I’ve taught at other institutions, and one thing that stands about St. Kate’s is fieldwork learning. It’s great for students to have that connection between theory and practice. Our partnerships with schools in the area mean students have a variety of fieldwork experiences available, and they get feedback from multiple sources. Fieldwork gives St. Kate’s graduates very marketable skills.

Spiritual direction certificate program

Why is a college education relevant?
It’s a safe way to explore your vocation, to learn about who you are. The college setting also reminds us that learning happens best in a community.

Why St. Kate’s?
I asked practicing spiritual directors for recommendations. St. Kate’s affiliation with the Catholic Church was certainly a factor in my choice. And I knew I would connect with St. Kate’s identity and mission.

What makes St. Kate’s special?
Much of the learning is relationship based. It’s a rich learning environment where everyone participates and has their voices heard.

You’re midway through your program; is your investment is worthwhile?
Absolutely I’ve grown in significant ways, both professionally and personally. I currently work as an outreach minister at St. Mary of the Lake Church in White Bear Lake, Minnesota. The classes I’ve taken so far have already been useful in my pastoral work.

Evening, Weekend, Online program (public health major)

Why is a college education valuable?
A college degree increases a person’s earning potential and opens doors to many careers that aren’t possible without a college education. 

Why did you choose to pursue a college degree?
I started college right after high school, but I took a break. I’ve changed a lot in the 2.5 years since I was last in college. I work in retail now, but want to do something more. I know I have to invest in my education.

What do you plan to study?
After much soul searching and research, I feel that a degree in public health will give me opportunities that fit my goals. I want to do something important with my life; I want to make a difference.

Why St. Kate’s?
My admissions counselor, Michelle Schedin, was phenomenal. She helped me in so many ways, and gave me confidence in making a good choice.

Why a women’s college?
I believe in the community of support. I also like the idea of being among strong, feminist women.

Photos: Rebecca Zenefski, by Rebecca Studios; Photo Styling: Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios, LLC

Photos: Rebecca Zenefski, by Rebecca Studios; Photo Styling: Brett Dorrian Artistry Studios, LLC

Group photo: Fun times!

Group photo: Fun times!

Pauline Oo
MAOL Cert ’14, MBA '16

Class Notes Editor
Sara Berhow

Art Director
Carol Evans-Smith

Molly Orth
Joey Blanchard

Production Assistants
Kara DeMarie MLIS '16
Kayla Forbes MBA '17

Director of Visual Communications
Jayne Stauffer

Director of Marketing and Communications
Kristin Kalstad Cummings '91

Vice President for External Relations
Bea Abdallah

Mary Pattock '66, Ruth Haag Brombach '60
651.690.6831 | 800.945.4599